Obviously we all wanted Manchester United to beat Sevilla, reach the Europa League final, and go onto lift the trophy.
But just like the previous two semi-finals this season, it was not meant to be, and United must now focus on moving forward.
Trying to spin this defeat into a positive, there are four ways this loss can help United over the coming weeks. Here is a look at how…
Focuses United on shortcomings and signing players
United have been a ‘cup team’ this season and our run to three semi-finals reflects how hard we have been to beat.
For a truer barometer of our quality, you might look to the Premier League table, where we were 33 points off first place.
There is real work to do in the transfer market to improve this team, and wile a trophy win would have helped United, it also could have papered over the cracks.
This squad is not good enough at present, as seen by an over-reliance on key players, reflected in Solskjaer’s substitutions.
The defeat can focus United on signing new players, with our efforts this window so far striking out.
Solskjaer made very clear this will become a more immediate priority, with the club’s season now over.
He told the club website: “
We’re always looking to improve the squad. It’s not about a marquee [signing], it’s about quality.
Of course when you’re going to sign players you need the right player and the right personality who will fit into the group and make us better. We might look at it today and see where we need to improve.”
Solskjaer has taken this particular iteration of this team as far as he can. He now needs help from Ed Woodward and the Glazers to speed his vision along.
Rather lose to Sevilla than Inter
There was no shame in losing to this Sevilla team which has won three Europa Leagues over recent seasons.
There would though have been a very sour note had we gone onto the final to lose to Inter Milan, who play Shakhtar in their semi tonight.
To lose to a Romelu Lukaku goal would have been a sickener, or an Alexis Sanchez strike.
What if Ashley Young had been the man who beat United in the final and then celebrated with the trophy afterwards in front of our players?
That would have been crushing to take, for players and supporters, and would have ended our season with a really bitter taste.
Conversations about transfer decisions to let the likes of Lukaku go would have become needless talking points, when United have by and large justified his exit.
Simply by avoiding that whole narrative allows us to focus on our own limitations.
With regard to this particular match, unlike the previous defeat to Sevilla under Jose Mourinho in the 2018 Champions League, United could hold their heads high.
There is no bitter hangover. We went out playing attacking football and only have ourselves to blame for missing chances.
Next season’s fixture schedule
Next season already looks like a real mess in terms of fixture scheduling with the season starting in September.
United are entitled to 30 days off, and if we had an extra week for Friday’s Europa League final, it would have caused an extra headache for schedule makers.
Now there is a chance United will only suffer a minor delay when the season kicks off.
The start date is September 12. United could start as early as September 16, rather than missing out on the first round of fixtures altogether and having to fit in an extra midweek game later in the season.
Not having to play catch up may help United next season, if we start the season more or less at the same stage as everybody else, rather than having to play with a ‘game in hand’ from the first week.
Making a fast start and sitting in the top one or two places can help give the team a psychological edge over rivals. It is important United have this opportunity.
Remember 2007 and AC Milan? That was a tough semi-final loss. We went on to win the Champions League a year later.
The pain of defeat can make the good times better. This loss will motivate the players and manager to try and put this right.
This team clearly needs help and strengthening, yet there is a clear platform for success here, having reached three semi-finals.
The match last night was a big game for United’s front three, and they were not as clinical as they were required to be.
Harry Maguire acknowledged after the game that the result was not good enough.
He was quoted by BT Sport: “Losing is not acceptable. Getting to semi-finals isn’t acceptable. [Winning a trophy] will happen soon. We want to win it as soon as possible.”
These are captain’s comments and were good to hear. The players in this United team are not going to let up.
If United are managed correctly in the transfer market this summer, and a lot of time has already been wasted already, then this side have the opportunity to become a force.
They have the talent and the motivation. There just needs to be a bit of help taking the next step.
- Solskjaer switch to diamond offers Van de Beek hope
- Willy Kambwala makes impressive academy debut
- United will be impacted by Everton’s double suspension
- Manchester United loanee Levitt substituted off at half-time in Charlton win
- Manchester United now have an unpredictable approach which Solskjaer must master
- Manchester United tested switching Elanga’s position with encouraging results
- Bruno Fernandes at top of Premier League creative rankings
- Three players Manchester United should leave out of XI v RB Leipzig
- Brandon Williams looks like he may have switched to right-back